Top 100 Western Songs of All Time (Part I)

Created by Schnurrbrat on 14 Jul 2019 | Last edited by Schnurrbrat on 17 Aug 2019
Top 100 Western Songs of All Time (Part I)

Top 100 Western Songs of All Time, as chosen by the members of the Western Writers of America: link.
This list was published on the website of American Cowboy magazine. Skip Skipson organized them on his website and added a number of Wikipedia articles and youtube videos. I've tried to contact Skip via his website, but didn't get answer back. So please visit his website for more information on these songs.
Part II (songs #51-100) of this list is here.

"(Ghost) Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend" was written in 1948 by American songwriter, film and television actor Stan Jones. Numerous cover versions were being released ever since. Johnny Cash made a recording of the song in 1979. The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" was inspired by this song too.

Translations:  Spanish Croatian German 5 more

Marty Robbins' best-known song that won the Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Recording in 1961

Translations:  Spanish Italian German 3 more

Original song was first recorded by The Sons of the Pioneers and briefly charted in 1941 with a peak position of No.25.
However, the best-selling recorded version was done by Vaughn Monroe and The Sons of the Pioneers in 1948.

Translations:  German

"Streets of Laredo" also known as the "Cowboy's Lament", is a famous American cowboy ballad in which a dying cowboy tells his story to another cowboy. Derived from the traditional folk song "The Unfortunate Rake", the song has become a folk music standard, and as such has been performed, recorded and adapted numerous times, with many variations. The title refers to the city of Laredo, Texas.

Translations:  German Czech

A signature song of American cowboy entertainer Gene Autry. It was co-written by Autry with Ray Whitley and first released in 1939

Translations:  German

A theme song of the 1952 western film High Noon, starring Gary Cooper. Also known as “The Ballad of High Noon” (or by its opening lyric and better known title, “Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin’”) . Music by Dimitri Tiomkin and lyrics by Ned Washington.

Translations:  Spanish German

"Oh Shenandoah" (also called simply "Shenandoah" or "Across the Wide Missouri") is a traditional American folk song of uncertain origin, dating to the early 19th century.

Translations:  Romanian German Italian

Although one of the most famous songs associated with the Sons of the Pioneers, the song was composed by Nolan in the 1930s. Originally titled "Tumbling Leaves", the song was reworked into the title "Tumbling Tumbleweeds" and into fame with the 1935 Gene Autry film of the same name.

Translations:  German

A classic western folk song sometimes called the "unofficial anthem" of the American West. The lyrics were originally written by Dr. Brewster M. Higley of Smith County, Kansas, in a poem entitled "My Western Home" in 1872. In 1947, it became the state song of the U.S. state of Kansas.

Translations:  Russian German French

A folk song and cowboy music standard of uncertain origins that has gone by different names (such as "Cowboy Love Song", "Bright Sherman Valley", "Bright Laurel Valley", "In the Bright Mohawk Valley", and "Bright Little Valley"), depending on where it has been sun

Translations:  Spanish Italian Tongan 6 more

A country ballad written and performed by Marty Robbins, originally released as an album track on Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs in 1959.

Translations:  Spanish German

A popular American song written in 1934, with music by Cole Porter and lyrics by Robert Fletcher and Cole Porter.

Translations:  German

Also known as "The Cowboy's Lament", "The Dying Cowboy", "Bury Me Out on the Lone Prairie", and "Oh, Bury Me Not", the song is described as the most famous cowboy ballad.

Translations:  German

"Desperado" is a song by the American rock band Eagles. It was written by Glenn Frey and Don Henley and appeared on the 1973 album Desperado as well as numerous compilation albums. Although the song was never released as a single, it is one of the group's best known songs and ranked No. 494 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time"

Translations:  Serbian Italian Turkish 4 more

This song appears on Murphey's 1975 album Blue Sky – Night Thunder. Released in February 1975, as the album's lead single, Wildfire became Murphey's highest-charting Pop hit in the United States. The somber story song hit #2 in Cash Box and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1975.

Translations:  German Russian

Written and recorded in 1934 by American songwriter and musician Tex Owens. It became a signature song for Eddy Arnold.

Translations:  German

"Pancho and Lefty" is a song written by country music artist Townes Van Zandt. Often considered his "most enduring and well-known song," Van Zandt first recorded it for his 1972 album The Late Great Townes Van Zandt. In 1983, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson adopted it as the title track of their duet album Pancho & Lefty, and was a number one country hit.

Translations:  German

Little Joe the Wrangler is a classic American cowboy song, written by N. Howard "Jack" Thorp. It appeared in Thorp's 1908 Songs of the Cowboys, which was the first published collection of cowboy songs. Also performed by western greats Don Edwards and Marty Robbins.

Translations:  German

An American popular song with lyrics written by Alan J. Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe for their 1951 Broadway musical, Paint Your Wagon, which is set in the California Gold Rush. It quickly became a runaway hit, and during the Korean War, the song was among the popular music listened to by the troops.

Translations:  German

Coyotes is an American Western song written by Bob McDill and closely associated with cowboy singer Don Edwards. It appears on Edwards' 1993 album Goin' Back to Texas.

Translations:  German

Written by Dick Charles (pseudonym for Richard Charles Krieg), Larry Markes, and Eddie DeLange in 1945. It was the title song of the 1945 Roy Rogers film of the same name. It was also used in the 1945 film Don't Fence Me In when it was sung by Roy Rogers and the Sons of the Pioneers.

Translations:  German

"Happy Trails" is a song by Roy Rogers and wife Dale Evans, known as the theme song for the 1940s and 1950s radio program and the 1950s television show in which they starred.

Translations:  German

"Rawhide" is a Western song written by Ned Washington (lyrics) and composed by Dimitri Tiomkin in 1958. It was originally recorded by Frankie Laine. The song was used as the theme to Rawhide, a western television series that ran on CBS from 1959 to 1966.

Translations:  Spanish German Persian

A traditional American folk song dating back to at least the 1850s. Became popular during the U.S. Civil War, especially among cavalrymen. Several versions of the song have been recorded, including by Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Mitch Miller. Presented lyrics are by Gene Autry.

Translations:  German

"Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys" is a country music song first recorded by Ed Bruce, written by him and wife Patsy Bruce. His version of the song appears on his 1976 self-titled album for United Artists Records.

Translations:  Russian Finnish French 2 more

"The Ballad of Davy Crockett" is a song with music by George Bruns and lyrics by Thomas W. Blackburn. It was introduced on ABC's television series Disneyland, in the premiere episode of October 27, 1954.

Translations:  German

"The Wayward Wind" is a country song written by Stanley Lebowsky (music) and Herb Newman (lyrics). In 1956, versions were recorded by Gogi Grant, Tex Ritter, and Jimmy Young, of which Grant's was the biggest seller in the United States and Ritter's in the United Kingdom. Patsy Cline recorded her version on the album Patsy Cline Showcase, in 1961.

Translations:  German Croatian

"The Strawberry Roan" is a classic American cowboy song, written by California cowboy Curley Fletcher and first published in 1915, as a poem called The Outlaw Broncho.

Translations:  German

When the Work's All Done this Fall is a classic American cowboy song, written as a poem by D. J. O'Malley (1867-1943). The work was first published in the Miles City Stock-Growers Journal in 1893, titled After the Roundup, over the pen name D.J. White.

Translations:  German

"Empty Saddles (in the Old Corral)" is a classic American cowboy song written by Billy Hill. Hill based the song on a poem by J. Keirn Brennan grieving for lost companions.The song became widely known to the public in July 1936, when Bing Crosby sang it with deep emotion in the Paramount musical "Rhythm on the Range".

Translations:  German

A soundtrack song from the 1960 American historical epic war film "The Alamo" produced and directed by John Wayne and starring Wayne as Davy Crockett.

Translations:  Spanish German Russian 1 more

"Mule Train" is a popular song written by Johnny Lange, Hy Heath, Ramblin' Tommy Scott and Fred Glickman. "Mule Train" was originally recorded by Ellis "Buz" Butler, Jr in 1947.

Translations:  German

Was recorded by Waylon Jennings on the 1976 album "Wanted! The Outlaws", and further popularized in 1980 by Willie Nelson as a single on the soundtrack to "The Electric Horseman".

Translations:  German

"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" is a song by Bob Dylan, written for the soundtrack of the 1973 film "Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid". The song features two verses, each of which represent the film's title characters and American frontier legends Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid.

Translations:  Greek Serbian German 24 more

Written by Terry Stafford and Paul Fraser, and recorded by Stafford in 1973. Several cover versions have since been made, including a major 1983 hit for George Strait.

Translations:  German Spanish

from a 1962 American Western film of the same title, starring John Wayne and James Stewart.

Translations:  German

Mike Blakely is a past president of the Western Writers of America, and three of his songs were included in this collection.

Translations:  German

An American western folk ballad in trochaic meter usually credited to Percy Montrose (1884), although it is sometimes credited to Barker Bradford. The song is believed to have been based on another song called "Down by the River Liv'd a Maiden" by H. S. Thompson (1863).

Translations:  German

A theme song from "The Rebel" TV series.

Translations:  German

Written by folk singer Peter La Farge. Its words tell the story of Ira Hayes, a Native American and a United States Marine who was one of the six flag raisers immortalized in the iconic photograph of the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II.

Translations:  French German Italian

A 1960 hit song recorded by Johnny Horton that was featured in the movie of the same name.

Translations:  German Romanian

From the 1959 American Western film "Rio Bravo", starring John Wayne.

Translations:  German Portuguese Croatian

This 1958 single was Johnny Cash fifth release to reach the number one position on the country chart, where it stayed for six weeks.

Translations:  German

written by Jimmy Kennedy and Michael Carr and published in 1939 for the film of the same name starring country star Gene Autry.

Translations:  Spanish German

written by Guy Clark and originally recorded by Jerry Jeff Walker for his 1973 album "Viva Terlingua".

Translations:  Arabic German

A traditional cowboy ballad, also performed under the title "Whoopie Ti Yi Yo." It is believed to be a variation of a traditional Irish ballad about an old man rocking a cradle. The cowboy adaptation is first mentioned in the 1893 journal of Owen Wister.
The "dogies" referred to in the song are runty or orphaned calves.

Translations:  German

A traditional American song, written and published as "Lubly Fan" in 1844. The song was widely popular throughout the United States, where minstrels often altered the lyrics to suit local audiences. The best-known version is named after Buffalo, New York.

Translations:  German

A comic song written by Johnny Mercer for the film "Rhythm on the Range" and sung by its star, Bing Crosby.

Translations:  German

Also known as a "New San Antonio Rose". It was the signature song of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. "San Antonio Rose" was an instrumental song written by Bob Wills, who first recorded it with the Playboys on November 28, 1938. Band members added lyrics and it was retitled "New San Antonio Rose".

Translations:  German French

A theme song from the 1957 American Western film of the same name, starring Burt Lancaster as Wyatt Earp and Kirk Douglas as Doc Holliday, loosely based on the actual event which took place on October 26, 1881.

Translations:  German
SchnurrbratSchnurrbrat    Thu, 18/07/2019 - 07:30

Thanks, Vera.
I unfortunately not in the position to add any, since this selection was done by Western Writers of America. I'm there only a messenger, not an expert on Western songs, but a fan of Western movies. Part 2 of the collection will be punished soon. I personally like the Texas Rangers folk song, which didn't make top 100. I've especially liked performance by Rebecca Pidgeon, which you could find on LT. Maybe when I will be more familiar with those songs, one more collection/selection would appear, or you could create your own. Thanks anyway, I will check them out.

Vera JahnkeVera Jahnke    Thu, 18/07/2019 - 09:38

Thank you for the song "Texas Rangers"! So I can admire the Highlands in Texas now...
And by this occasion: Thanks for your interesting profile-picture! Although I know the facts, I have never see the coin before.